Lots of Activity in North Raleigh

It’s a great time for parks and greenways in Raleigh! As I mentioned recently, there have been eight dedications and a groundbreaking in the last eight months! Here’s a roundup of some exciting things that are currently in the works for North Raleigh.

Honeycutt Creek Greenway

The city council has approved the alignment and design of the Honeycutt Creek Greenway.  When completed, this trail will connect the Bent Creek Trail near Shelley Lake (link to Google Maps) to the Mountains to Sea Trail along Falls Lake, with stops at West Millbrook Middle School and Honeycutt Park. The trail will be traditional greenway (10ft wide, paved) for most of the route. North of the intersection of Honeycutt Rd and Durant Rd, the trail will be an unpaved footpath.

Neuse River Greenway

The city has begun work on the Neuse River Greenway (NRG). As I posted previously, this trail will travel from the dam at Falls Lake, south to the Johnston County border, connecting to Raleigh’s major east-west greenways along the way. Other folks are getting on-board, too – Johnston County is working on continuing the trail at their end and there are plans to connect to the NRG from Wake Forest, as well. The first section of this trail, from the dam to the WRAL soccer fields, is expected to open in April of 2011. The company that’s constructing the trail, Stewart Engineering, has begun work just off of Falls River Ave near Ashmead Ln. You can sign up to receive occasional emails regarding trail progress on the NRG Google group.

Check out Joe Miller’s GetGoing NC blog for some more details about trail location and timing.

Forest Ridge Park

Raleigh is working on plans for what will be the city’s largest park. It will be built on 675-acres of Army Corps land just north of the dam at Falls Lake. Phase one of the design includes a welcome center, picnic shelters, hiking trails and a ropes course. The park will have two distinct activity centers, one just north of the dam (Forest Ridge South) and one that will be located near where Old Route 98 currently dead-ends (Forest Ridge Main). Engineering firm HadenStanziale plans to submit 90% plans for the park to the city within the next month, with construction being completed within the next 18-24 months. The plans take advantage of existing open areas and trails to minimize impact on this beautiful tract of land.

White Water Park

Things are busy around the dam at Falls Lake! Plans are in the works for establishing a white water park in the tail race of the dam. The idea for this was initially included in the Neuse River Master Recreation Plan in 1996. The plan has been described as “like Charlotte’s US National Whitewater Center, but without all of the concrete.” I’m sure I’ll have more to post on this as plans unfold.

Update: The Falls Whitewater Park website has a list of FAQs about the project. Specifically, they note that any comparison Charlotte’s park is an apples/oranges comparison. The proposed Falls Whitewater Park will resemble a natural river and be more like Reno Nevada’s Whitewater park than Charlotte’s paddle/bike/climb/eat/etc model.

Buffaloe Road Aquatics Center

The design has been completed for phase one of a recreational aquatics center on the site of the Buffaloe Road Athletic Park (another Google Maps link). This is sure to be a popular attraction. Focusing on recreation, rather than lap/sport swimming, the center will include a lazy river, a “spray-ground”, an elaborate water slide and a “vortex” for swimmers to enjoy. Portions of the pool will be deep enough for water aerobics, basketball and volleyball. The entire center will be closed-in and open year-round. The plan to focus on recreational swimming at this location allows Raleigh’s existing aquatic centers to focus a bit more on sport swimming (swim meets, etc).

Szostak Design has created a plan that organizes the site so that a future phase 2, one that includes a traditional lap-pool, will be constructed using the common areas (changing rooms, etc) established in phase one.

Watkins Road Park

The city is also moving forward on buying approximately 49 acres of land off of Watkins Road in northeast Raleigh. The plan is to build a large community park on the tract. These types of parks are typically staffed and include a community center, athletic fields and open spaces. This will fulfill a big need in this fast-growing area.